Diversity Recruiting for STEM FieldsI have the answer to recruiting candidates for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. First let me say, the lack of diversity in STEM argument is stupid and played out. No, there is not a huge pool of minorities to choose from when recruiting for STEM positions.  Got it.  Personally, I think this seems statistically impossible. If minorities are becoming the majority, then there should be more minorities to choose from for ALL positions. The truth is, companies are not looking at diversity recruiting for STEM fields the right way and are forcing you, diversity recruiter, to look in the wrong place. A little known secret about me is that I have a IT Business Analyst background.  I was hired with a lot of passion but little experience.  Yes, I was a black woman in IT in the 90s.  The funny thing is, I was hired by another black woman in IT in the 90s, my mentor and hero, Dr. Bellverie Ross, PhD. She gave me a chance and I would not be who I am if it wasn’t for her.

In an article published on US News and World Report Allie Bidwell wrote, “Despite a national focus on directing more students toward science, technology, engineering and math fields – particularly women and minorities – the STEM workforce is no more diverse now (in 2015) than in 2001, according to data from Change the Equation.” I appreciate Ms. Bidwell bringing the issue to the forefront, bue I know as she was writing it she was probably like, “Duh.”

So the workforce for STEM does not seem diverse. Well, how diverse are your recruiting teams?  How have you changed, if at all, the way you are recruiting? Is your company one that cultivates and nurtures the diversity in it’s employees? Maybe it is because thanks to advancements in science,  the same racist, sexist, boys club leadership that was in executive positions 15 years ago are still there!

 Diversity Recruiting for STEM FieldsAnother reason we see a lack of a STEM candidate pool is where we are getting this data from. All reports point to Colleges and Universities to see let us know what their students are majoring in to decide what type of technological future we will have in the US. Well here is some news for ya, if people cannot afford college, you will not see them on said report.”Reasons that women and underrepresented minorities do not go beyond STEM in college include insufficient engagement; lack of role models, mentoring and peer support; and insufficient mathematics preparation to thrive in STEM fields,” said Kimberly Wright Cassidy, President, Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Emily Cadman from the Financial Times wrote, “One of the problems is that the majority of businesses use formal qualifications and academic achievement to filter out applicants. Critics argue this locks out students from poorer backgrounds who are more likely to have attended weak secondary schools, and perhaps less selective universities, meaning their applications are screened out without a human ever considering their other achievements.”

To this MYnority, it seems simple.  All you have to do is:

  1. Hire people who are passionate about technology and math, hire them on an entry level and train them on what technology you are needing for your company.  Then, pay for their college while they are working for you as part of their benefits package. Then offer a hefty bonus when they graduate.
  2. Start a mentor program. Get with the Boys and Girls club, the YMCA, the Goodwill, your local library or other organization looking for adults to inspire others and start a STEM club. Have leaders in the club and offer summer internships for High Schoolers.
  3. Make sure your companies environment is comfortable to people of various backgrounds. Go beyond a poster with black people in it.  This will not do.

 Diversity Recruiting for STEM FieldsJust do something. Stop using the same old excuses as the reasons why you don;t have a more diverse staff.  I am willing to guess that companies with a lack of diversity in STEM positions have a lack of diversity company wide. Add this to the fact that RECRUITERS DON’T RECRUIT ANYMORE! New technologies in recruiting and use of social media avenues can sometimes overshadow recruiting recruiters with hunter-gatherer traits.

At the end of the day, the reason there is a lack of minority STEM candidates is because of the lack of open doors to let those that are underrepresented in. For diversity recruiters, you need to educate hiring managers that some of the requirements that they may have for their open positions are just not practical with looking at recruiting underrepresented groups. Just give people who may not have attended college  a chance like Dr. Ross gave me.  Maybe a candidate does not have the experience you want on paper.  That does not mean that they do not have heart and passion for the technology field.  Times are changing.  Is your company’s recruiting efforts changing with them?

Jackye Clayton Editor RecruitingTools.comAbout the Author: An international trainer, Jackye Clayton has traveled worldwide sharing her unique gifts in sourcing, recruiting and coaching. She offers various dynamic presentations on numerous topics related to leadership development, inclusionary culture development, team building and more.Her in-depth experience in working with top Fortune and Inc 500 clients and their employees has allowed her to create customized programs to coach, train and recruit top talent and inspire others to greatness. Follow Jackye on Twitter @JackyeClayton  and @RecruitingTools or connect with her on LinkedIn.

By Jackye Clayton

Jackye is an acclaimed thought leader and inspirational speaker on recruiting and DEIB topics. She brings years of experience recruiting across a variety of industries including tech, HR, legal, and finance. In her role as VP of Talent Acquisition and DEIB, she leads all related work at Textio, provides critical expertise to customers, and serves as a leading voice in the products Textio creates for the broader ecosystem. Jackye has been named one of the 9 Powerful Women in Business You Should Know by SDHR Consulting, one of the 15 Women in HR Tech to Follow by VidCruiter, and is on the Top 100 list of Human Resources Influencers by Human Resource Executive Magazine.